Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Society Matters

The Co-Operative Housing Society in which I live is one of the many banes of my existence. Not so much because they are extremely sensitive to the activities of the ground floor flat which I inhabit, but also, that this is my grandparent's flat (cackle, cackle) and so my activities are even more, well, noteworthy.
So we have many characters, like a Priyadarshan movie - some wasted, some talented, mostly irritating, and its all the stuff you've seen before. One is an old lady in the next door flat who insists on sitting at her window till 2 am in the morning just peering out. And so she probably notices all of our late night entries. That's fine, no big deal. But, she is the friend of the grandmother. The good thing about old people though is that you can always claim that they've gone senile. And other old people are perfectly willing to believe you - as long as you establish that they are not the ones who've gone senile, its fine. That also covers the other senile lady across the compound.
The noisy shaggers on the floor above, however, aren't so easily avoidable, for the following reasons:
1. The husband is the secretary of the co-operative housing society.
2. Once, we had a late night drinking session and at 2am, the bell rings and I open it to find a very peeved uncle saying "What is the time?". Ignoring the fact that this would make a kick ass watch ad, I apologized very profusely and looked very innocently at him, thankful for the neutral smell of Vodka.
"It's my birthday today!"
"Happy Birthday." He growled.
The next morning, his cheeky daughter wished me a "happy birthday" from the window. One of the other building toddlers asked her how she knew it was my birthday. The little brat winked very conspiratorially at her. Biyatch.
3. The uncle is a bit of a roving eyed fellow. This isn't the first late night interaction we've had. Whenever the water would be limited, or the sewage pipe was being worked on, our man would have the courtesy of informing me of the same at about 1030pm every night, you know, the time when women are usually chilling out in abbreviated clothing and free from the confines of the contraption called the brassiere. This ended when Uncle wasn't too pleased with the quality of exposure - he came by one night to encounter a bare chested Dad who had come for a visit.
4. The Society's functioning is kind of excessive and pretty illegal, and I'm in on the game. They don't like the smug look I give them too much.
Being on the committee of a Co-Operative Housing Society has to be the most thankless job on earth. Honestly, the majority of people who stand for such posts are the victims of subordination in various other spheres - be it office, or at home. For such frustrated souls, the idea of being able to bully unsuspecting people over trivial issues originating from the hallowed bye laws which no one has any idea of brings many of them to ejaculation. Because of the supposedly unbridled power of being able to throw someone out of a house which they may have paid/be paying a bomb for is a mindfuck.
So my pals Bunny and Pandu in Sion have to leave the house late because their Society Hitler has decreed, in pure Nana Patekar hindi, that "Eh, Kachra baher naahi rakhne ka. Jab Ghanta bajega, tab rakhne ka. Uske pehla nahin. Baas aaata hai". So my boss, who is some port member of his posh colony, salivates on the ides of every month at the prospect of typing out minutes of the Society meetings. So another friend had to empty a house out because the Society decided, after he executed the lease agreement and paid the deposit, that "bachelor log allowed nahin hai". So my Society, on account of scarcity of water, decided that the shortage is more likely due to the fact that the "irresponsible girls" on the ground floor than say, a fault in the pump, so they tried to break into my house and letch uncle claimed a copy of the keys for his very own, you know, to check. I told him to file that along with a threesome with me and my roomie in the "think about it and get castrated" dreams drawer.
But by far, my trippiest Society experience has been defending a group of three consultants. The story was notable for several reasons, one of which is more fully described here. The girls were the victims of a dispute between their landlord and the society, and they were being forced into being evicted as the good society's opinion was that their late nights and male visitors... well, you get it. The landlord very shyly told me how in one of the meetings they were even referred to as "call girls" (not recorded in the minutes, of course). In time, I was called upon the argue out objections to the Society being granted the injunction of evicting these girls. Along with the legal principles enshrined in several supreme court judgments on granting of temporary injunctions (yawn...yawn...), I summarized my arguments with the following:
"Your Honour, these girls may be coming back late at night, but so what? They stay on the ground floor. They would put their keys in their door, enter the house, and shut the door behind them. End of story. How would they disturb anyone else by their conduct? Unless, of course, we have members of the Society staying up till the wee hours of the morning, waiting for these girls to return, perhaps, with not the noblest of intentions?"
The Judge blushed. I got the Injunction rejected and my Clients got to keep their flat. I'd like to claim that my wild accusation was the reason for my success, but I think my alternative argument that "These are youngsters from the IITs and IIMs, the most prestigious institutions, the cream of the country... and they are girls, your Honour, from respectable families... "
Aren't we all? :)

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